Adjusting for wholemeal


 Hi, I have a very happy starter and bake most days in my bread machine (three kids, nuff said!).

My white loaf is great, and gets tweaked every now and again by adding rosemary and olive oil, or honey and sunflower seeds (for example)... but I'd love to get a good wholemeal loaf for variety.

I'll give my recipe below but substituting half wholemeal flour (and half my usual white) to make the final dough gives me a delicious loaf, but not much rise... What can I do to get a better rise?

My usual recipe is:

  • 300g refreshed starter (100%, I refresh it, divide it immediately and put 300 in the machine, the rest back in the fridge)

Then I add on top, without mixing:

300g water

400g White bread flour (here I have tried using 200g wholemeal, 200 white)

7g salt

4 hr rest followed by 4 hr bread cycle.

Thanks for any thoughts.


106 users have voted.


hitz333 2011 June 22

I'm a novice myself, so hoping others will jump in, but have you tried a higher hydration? I find my wholemeal flour to be much thirstier than my white. I successfully do two-thirds whole wheat with my pizza dough and will probably try 100% soon, but obviously that doesn't have as much rise issues as bread. I'll be trying Shiao-Ping's wholemeal pain a l'aincienne soon; it looks gorgeous! I do a wholemeal load in my bread machine, but it also contains milk and honey and is still slightly denser than the white loaves.


If you want to get into it more, I once checked out Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book. He has a lot of interesting ideas and methods to try to compensate for the sharp kernel of the grain cutting into the structure of the dough, and therefore making it more dense.

Jeannie143 2011 June 23

I have discovered that the plain white flour loaf is indeed high and fluffy but the nutrition content is not so great so I've sacrificed the fluff for fiber, nutrition and grain. Bran, flax seed, sesame seed, rolled oats, barley cereal, buckwheat and wheat germ all find a place in my bread but the high fiber that makes it so nutritious also acts like little saws and cuts the gluten-wheat threads that allow the bubbles to get big and fat. My answer is to pre-cook the rolled oats and barley cereal in the microwave and put that into my first rise mix with the flour, starter & salt then after it's done its bubbly best I knead in more flour. At the end of the knead I stretch out the dough and cover it with the bran, wheat germ and whatever seeds I'm using. I sort of fold this together (kind of like a cinnamon roll) and let it rise this way. I get my fiber and bubbles, too!

This would not work in a bread machine so possibly you could cut way back on the whole grains and seeds and/or add more gluten. I buy vital gluten at Walmart whenever I feel like making the expedition to that store. If you look through the pictures on the site here you will see that most of the high rise loaves are just white or unbleached flour loaves. The heavy grains that add nutrition also drag down the loaf a bit. Since I have been read the riot act by my doctor and have lost the privileges to almost all carbs I am very serious about the fiber and nutrition found in my one slice a day bread. I don't miss the bubbles because the taste is excellent and my blood sugar thanks me, too. Good luck with this.

Jeff 2011 June 24

I have read that the bread machine is not good for a sourdough loaf since the rising times are too short.

I do not use a machine, but my experience from hand made loaves, is that I need a much longer proofing and rising

time than is needed for bought yeast bread, so from reading and experience it is not supposed to be a good idea.

My process from proofing till baking is a day, that is from morning to evening, which gives a light wholemeal spelt loaf.

Can you program the machine to do longer rising times?


Brickie Dick 2011 June 24

 I bake my 100% whole wheat at 75% hydration.  It needs a long, cool ferment, a fairly cool oven and LOTS of steam.  Even so, the most open crumb I can get is with holes about the size of a pea.  

saralexis 2011 June 24
In the machine I usually take 8 hours for a white loaf, which is reliably fluffy. I tried lengthening this to 10 hours and pre-soaking the wholemeal (which is quite coarse) yesterday. I got a little more rise, so I may try 11 next. It's not a brick and I'm getting reasonable oven spring, but I would like a little more rise during proving.

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